Over the past month, the Department of Justice and high-ranking officials from the Trump Administration have been pushing the legal community to distance themselves from the practice of issuing nationwide injunctions, which Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refers to as “cosmic injunctions.” Nationwide injunctions have plagued past administrations but have reached an all-time high since Trump came into office.
At a meeting of the Federalist Society, Vice-President Mike Pence argued that nationwide injunctions, “prevent the executive branch from acting, compromising our national security by obstructing the lawful ability of the president to stop threats to the homeland.”
The use of nationwide injunctions is also an abuse of judicial power. At a recent speech to the American Law Institute, Attorney General William Barr stated:
No official in the United States government can exercise that kind of nationwide power, with the sole exception of the president. And the Constitution subjects him to a nationwide election, among other constitutional checks, as a prerequisite to wielding that power.
It is in the interest of both Republicans and Democrats to curb the use of nationwide injunctions. Both parties have viewed the practice as an institutional problem that needs to be fixed.
Experts expect the practice to be limited through a decision by the Supreme Court in coming years, but Florida State University Law professor Michael Morley suggests that the problem could be fixed sooner through legislation or changes through the judicial rulemaking process.